'Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth': Morgan Stanley Warns Investors on Virgin Galactic Stock

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

'Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth': Morgan Stanley Warns Investors on Virgin Galactic Stock

Take your pick of metaphors – rocketing, earth shattering, stratospheric - Virgin Galactic stock has been surging this year, up more than 200%. The Mojave-based company now has a market capitalization of $7.2 billion even though it only generated $3 million in revenue last year.


Why all the excitement? No one seems to know, including Morgan Stanley, which issued a research note Thursday expressing bewilderment.

"We do struggle to identify significant thesis changing/accelerating events since the time of our initiation in early December of 2019," wrote analyst Adam Jonas in a note titled "Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth."

Jonas said he was surprised by the volume and volatility of the stock and he urged investors to be cautious. "A modest correction is overdue, and frankly, healthy," he wrote.

Investors did not seem phased by the warning, however, as the stock was nearly flat in Thursday's trading session after the note was published, though it dropped nearly 10% in after-hours trading. The stock closed Thursday at $37.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Virgin Galactic became the first publicly traded commercial space tourism company in October, going through a reverse merger.

The company's two competitors, Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, are privately held. Blue Origin, headquartered near Seattle is funded almost entirely by the Amazon CEO while Hawthorne-based SpaceX is VC and debt funded. The company, which is now valued at over $33 billion, got its latest financing from an $800 million Revolver facility from Bank of America in December.

Virgin Galactic will report earnings for only the second time as a public company on Feb. 25

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S.C. Stuart
S.C. Stuart is a foreign correspondent (ELLE China, Esquire Latin America), Contributing Writer at Ziff Davis PCMag, and consults as a futurist for Hollywood Studios. Previously, S.C. was the head of digital at Hearst Magazines International while serving as a Non-Executive Director, UK Trade & Investment (US) and Digital Advisor at The Smithsonian.
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Maylin Tu
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